A Snow Job on Seniors

Grace-Marie Turner
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Posted: Jun 22, 2010 10:05 AM
A Snow Job on Seniors

The White House and its allies have just begun a multi-million dollar public relations effort – funded in large part by taxpayers – to try to convince senior citizens that ObamaCare is good for them. But this attempted snow job obscures the harmful impact the new law will have on seniors.

The White House isn’t telling seniors about ObamaCare’s $575 billion in cuts to Medicare that will make it harder and harder for them to find a doctor. Or that all seniors with a Medicare Part D prescription plan will be facing higher premiums in the coming years, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

The White House instead is spending taxpayer dollars to tell seniors about the $250 rebate check coming to those fully exposed to the Part D “doughnut hole.” What they neglect to mention is that fewer than one in ten people on Medicare actually will be receiving the checks.

And the White House neglects to mention other ways seniors will be hurt by ObamaCare’s cuts. The president repeatedly pledged that, “If you like your plan, you will be able to keep it,” but experts in his own administration say otherwise. According to Medicare’s actuary, more than seven million seniors with Medicare Advantage plans will lose their current coverage because of cuts to these plans. And those who still have Medicare Advantage plans will have “less generous benefit packages” because of the cuts.

Not surprisingly, cuts in Medicare will impact seniors’ access to care. Medicare’s actuaries estimate that about 15 percent of doctors and hospitals will become unprofitable because of ObamaCare, “possibly jeopardizing access to care for Medicare beneficiaries.”

Glenn Beck

Meanwhile, the White House is trying to fool seniors into believing that these cuts will strengthen Medicare by extending its solvency. But many of the “savings” taken out of Medicare are spent elsewhere, leading the CBO to conclude that ObamaCare “would not enhance the ability of the government to pay for future Medicare benefits.”

Congressional leaders could have avoided the current fight over the 21 percent cut in payments to doctors caring for Medicare patients by including the payment fix in their health overhaul bill. Instead, ObamaCare did nothing to help doctors, and now the cuts threaten seniors’ access to care as more doctors refuse to accept Medicare patients.

Given ObamaCare’s harmful impact upon seniors, some might be surprised to know that the powerful seniors’ lobby AARP supported ObamaCare’s passage and aggressively lobbied for it. But while seniors are harmed by ObamaCare, the AARP – a multibillion-dollar special interest organization – did quite well.

In fact, the AARP’s array of sweetheart deals would make even make Sen. Ben Nelson, father of the “Cornhusker Kickback,” and Sen. Mary Landrieu, mother of the “Louisiana Purchase,” blush with envy.

A few examples: Last year, the AARP received $427 million in royalty fees for selling “Medigap” policies to seniors – more than it received from membership dues, grant revenues, and private contributions combined. Yet thanks to its own special deal, the AARP is exempted from the $60 billion tax ObamaCare imposes on insurance plans.

Though the White House boasts that ObamaCare prohibits insurance companies from excluding coverage based upon pre-existing conditions, AARP is also exempted from this requirement. Thus, AARP and others selling Medigap policies can and will continue to impose coverage waiting periods on seniors.

And while ObamaCare limits insurance executives’ compensation to $500,000 a year, AARP is conveniently exempted from the requirement. As a result, AARP can pay its CEO more than $1 million a year, just as it has in the past.

Finally, ObamaCare requires Medicare Advantage plans to spend at least 85 percent of all premium dollars on medical claims – but again, it exempts AARP. AARP’s Medigap plans must only spend 65 percent on medical claims, ensuring that AARP can pocket more royalties at the expense of seniors’ care.

The White House and allies such as the AARP are trying to use multi-million dollar public relations campaigns, presidential town hall meetings, misleading taxpayer-funded mailings to seniors and other efforts to fool seniors about ObamaCare.

But the fact remains that millions of seniors will lose their current coverage and millions more will have trouble finding a doctor to see them – all because of ObamaCare. Seniors are too smart to believe the sugarcoated message and are rightfully angry over sweetheart deals that protect special interests at their expense.